The image Main Street, the service corridor and meeting ground of small town life, is much evoked in discussions about town planning. New Urbanism design is inspired by pre-car North America in its attempt to recover a lost communal space through the closer relation of buildings to streets and parks. Image is crucial in this goal as it is put to service in creating the sense of comfort, familiarity and trust lost in the inner city and standard suburb.  

Main Street as a three-dimensional image, a North American archetypal setting is also at the service of cutting-edge retail design. In order to recover the human scale and intimacy of 19th century small town life, commercially moribund main streets are now revived to compete with, or complement, the generic shopping mall. 

In a retail trade journal a designer of “retail and lifestyle centers,” Angelo Carusi comments on popularity of Main Street inspired retail environments. He cautions that for these to be commercially successful, a level of authenticity must be attained through references to local reality.

Angelo Carusi
“When “Authentic” is Fake” Retail Traffic, May 1, 2003.

How influential is architectural "authenticity" in meeting the design and social goals of New Urbanism?  The watering-down of new urban plans by consumer-conscious builders in communities north of Toronto reveals the pitfalls of market adaptation.

“New Urbanism is about more than great plans... It’s also about integrity and authenticity — down to the design of porches, windows, dormers, materials, and the configuration of buildings on a block.” October/November 2002 issue of New Urban News.

 A community web site and discussion board that tackles debates about New Urbanism from inside the first Canadian community planned around its principles in Cornell Village beside Markham, Ontario. Look under the discussion board for “New Urbanism” moderated by Elvis Lives.

See John Bentley Mays comments on Oak Park, Oakville, Metrontario Group’s development

Globe Real Estate
The Perfect House- 3 October 2003

Check-out Oak Park on the web at: